How To Make the Most of Craigslist

Years ago I used ebay a lot. Mostly for selling, occasionally for buying. In the years since, ebay’s fees have gone up, and the stuff I have for sale has gotten bigger — kids’ gear and toys are rarely small. Because of the size of these items, shipping isn’t a good option. That’s when I started using Craigslist for buying and selling.

I’m by no means a Craigslist expert, but I have learned a few things since I started buying and selling kids’ stuff there. Here are some tips:

If You’re Buying

♦ Plan in advance. If you know you want to give your kids a ride-on John Deere Gator for their birthday in September, start looking a few months in advance. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to watch the Craigslist ads and wait for the right deal.

♦ Take someone with you when you go to look at an item. I like to believe that the world is a safe place, but it just makes sense to take a friend when you’re going to a stranger’s house.

♦ Be prepared to pay cash for the item when you go to look at it. But don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s not exactly what you want.

♦ It’s okay to ask the seller if she’ll take $xx for the item, but don’t be a jerk about it. Most of the time people will take a little less, but sometimes they won’t. Decide on the maximum price you’re willing to pay before you get there.

I’ve bought quite a few things for my kids on Craigslist. For larger toys and playsets, it makes sense to avoid paying full-price for a new item, especially if it’s something the kids are likely to out-grow. It’s also good for the environment to reuse an item that’s already out there, rather than buying, and therefore causing more production of, something new.

If You’re Selling

♦ Do a search on Craigslist for the item you will be selling. See if there are others already listed and compare prices, age and condition of the item(s).

♦ Clean it up before listing. Clean items are more appealing and are more likely to sell.

♦ Be as detailed as possible in your listing. Include photos. Disclose and photograph any problems — it will save you a lot of time later.

♦ Be honest. The person who contacts you first gets first dibs.

♦ Ask a fair price, but be willing to haggle a little.

♦ Providing a phone number in the listing makes things move along more quickly. I always use the anonymous email option, but do give my cell number.

In General:

Buy quality products (used or new) and take care of them. If you do, you’ll get a good return on your money. We recently sold a Power Wheels Barbie Jeep, a Peg Perego John Deere Gator and a BOB Revolution Duallie stroller. In each case, I was able to get well more than half of what I paid for each item. It was a good deal (compared with buying new) for the buyers and a good deal for us.

I’d love to know what tips and suggestions you have for buying and selling with Craigslist. Tell us about them in the comments.

Photo Credit: David M Hepburn